Nov 14, 2016
On FanFiction and Fury and Despair:
The State of A Voter Address
Every day I spend much of my down time reading fanfiction, stories written by fans based on characters and / or storylines from copyrighted TV shows, movies, and other published works which are then uploaded onto the internet to share with other like-minded fans.
Much of the fanfiction that I read are "subtext" stories, stories with alternative arcs or endings, or flat out fixit stories inspired by the "canon" set forth in the original work. They are stories that take an idea kernel and grow it into something more, stories that are born of an itch that just won't go away, and stories that simply try to correct a wrong.
Many of the stories make good bedtime reads. Some, not so much. And, on rare occasion, a few stories are spectacular, worthy of mainstream publication ... if it were actually possible to publish under copyright law, with the permission of a gaggle of lawyers and the original published author and so desired by the subsequent fanfic author. But I suspect, in nearly all instances of fanfic, the story is posted and shared for the love of the story and / or for the love of storytelling.
Regardless of the potential of mainstreaming, or perhaps precisely because of the absolute disregard of ever mainstreaming, fanfiction is an interesting phenomenon where amateur and professional wordsmiths salt the bytes with narrative and dialog purely inspired by their personal muses, rabid plot bunnies, and accolades / responses from their readers. It is this direct author-to-reader, Mano-a-Mano communication environment that makes fanfiction a fascinating social forum where people who share similar interests can bond over the plight of fictional characters (plight that sometimes mirrors real life) and shared universal ideas.
Authors upload stories. Readers read the stories and post their responses to the stories on message boards, if they are so moved. Authors read the responses, reflect and write some more. Dialog occurs between the authors and readers. Ideas are shared. Stories evolve. Change occurs.
In short, fanfiction is an existential Boheminan cafe. Minus the absynth.
For me, fanfiction is my daily salvation, a safe garden where I can visit with comforting fictional characters who live in a world that thrives in much the same manner as I wish my world to be, an open forum where I can chat with authors and readers who share similar values. But most importantly, fanfiction is an alternative universe to the madness that is real life.
And that is ridiculous.
Because it is soooooo Walter Mitty.
And I am an employed, college educated, fifty-six year old woman.
Who should face the madness head on.
Who needs to tame her fury.
Who needs to assuage her despair.
Who needs to find a way to heal.
Who needs to continue voting!
But most importantly ... Who needs to live gracefully amongst her neighbors.
And today a hiccup occurred.
Today, I sent an email to the author of a fanfic based on the Canadian TV show "Lost Girl," an inspiring series where two political factions of people who have been long standing adversaries are thwarted by an unaligned newcomer and challenged over time to grow beyond the fractious stalemate to which they have grown accustomed. Ok, there may be a supernatural apocalypse involved before a new peace can be formed, nevertheless there are parables presented each episode from which we can learn to rebuild our society, if not for ourselves, at least for our children.
The fanfic author to whom I sent the email understood this core concept of the TV show and scripted a tale of her own, refracted through her life's experiences and personal lens, and directed by her own multicolored pen. Ok, there still may be a supernatural apocalypse involved before a new peace can be formed, nevertheless there were lessons to be learned ... and hope to be garnered.
So I, the reader, responded to her, the author, to thank her for posting her story of hope. Only in the midst of it I found myself pulled into a personal maelstrom that was raging forth and flowing into a renewed context of its own, one that clearly branded me for who I am and why I could no longer quietly accept the madness of the reality that exists today.
Only the message I sent to her should have been posted at large. Or at least elsewhere. Surely somewhere.
I, the Voter, needed to respond to ... whom? Other voters? My fellow like-minded voters? My non-fellow unlike-minded voters? The candidates? The electoral college that should not be?
For a week, I have been raging!
Loudly, at home, to the choir.
Silently, at work, to the non-choir.
And now to an unsuspecting kind-hearted fanfic author who posted a fairytale months, if not years, ago, for the love of storytelling, I unloaded my fury and despair ... for her eyes to read and dissect? For mine? Maybe she can glean something from it. Maybe I can. I don't know. Frankly, I'm still working on the fury and the despair.
This is an existential delimma. My existential delimma.
To heal enough to shake my neighbor's hand.
To live in peace.
Without an apocalypse.
So in an attempt to live my life more authentically, outside of the proverbial closet, I offer you my voter's perspective so that I may learn ... and possibly heal ... so that one day soon I can shake your hand in peace.
To: [FANFIC AUTHOR]
I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed reading your Lost Girl stories on ralst.com, especially "The Miracle" and "Geminus Fatum." Both are so very well written and an absolute joy to read. I must also tell you that reading "Geminus Fatum" now, so recently after our upended presidential election, serves as a small but welcomed analgesic balm soothing much of the rage and frustration I am currently feeling within myself.
You see, I am "of an age" ... the first born child of Southern white George Wallace democrats who viewed racism through RayBans, like it was a normal way of life disrupted by Yankee liberals, one which I have lived my life dispelling ... a Title 9 girl who played on a Southern elementary school girls basketball team the first year that it was newly resurrected, after decades of incomprehensible banishment, simply because we asked to play at a fortuitous time, one wherein we girls were protected by the law to have the same opportunities as boys ... a teenager who saw the ERA amendment unable to be ratified by The People, my people, who included my own mother, a woman who recognized that she was shackled by sexist inequality but voted against the amendment to preserve her car insurance discount ... a member of the third co-Ed class of cadets at the military academy at West Point, the last class to have been led and hazed by an all-male firstie cadre, who perceived themselves to be the last bastion of male superiority ... a young woman who rallied behind Anita Hill when she dared to air the sexist injustices practiced by Clarence Thomas, despite it being all for naught ... a young woman who disagreed with Clarence Thomas's view on affirmative action, because her life had already been changed many times over because men and women before her had acted and affirmed her right to be ... a feminist who stands proudly beside thousands of women grateful for the freedom of choice we have been granted by the courage of so many, many women before us and exemplified in the hard won battle of Rowe v. Wade ... a young Southern bisexual woman who's self discovery emerged during an era when homosexuality was being erased as a mental disease / disorder from the DSMV, faster in the North than the South ... a young Southern bisexual woman who's self discovery was entombed in fear of losing her family's love and acceptance, the seal of which was not publicly broken for 35 years ... a mature bisexual woman who has been legally married to a loving man for over 30 years but who could one day legally marry a woman should circumstances change ... a very proud supporter of the first woman to receive the People's Vote to become the president of our diverse and United States of America.
You see, I am closer to Hillary's age than not, cut from a similar egalitarian cloth, stained by all the blood of the skirmishes of our times which has pitted neighbor against neighbor, brother against sister, mother against daughter. Over and over again, we have debated, voted and lived, each according to our own personal moral compass, trying to keep our eyes on the prize.
And here we be.
Through means of an antiquated patriarchal political construct, one which needs immediate dismantling, we are about to put a man in the White House who represents everything against which half of us have lived a lifetime voting and living to set right, while the other half of us support him as is ... hideous, hateful warts and all. Not the People's Choice, but elected nonetheless.
Yes, I am of an age ... and I am growing weary.
Maybe it IS time to pass the baton to the next generation and simply retire to my own private garden, keep my own council, and read all the fanfiction I want ... without fear of retribution or pain of involvement.
As you have depicted in your stories, I just hope that there is a healing Chosen One and her valiant warrior mate to lead the way for the next generation. Thank you for carrying on the hope of tomorrow, a torch which I believe the creators, actors and artists behind "Lost Girl" well and truly lit.
And please forgive my diatribe. It serves only to heal my own wounds.
HBG [ME, FANFIC READER]